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The finest spots to enjoy an outdoor brew in the capital.
There's no more noble activity than drinking outdoors. Although Wellington's climate doesn't naturally lend itself to a bit of beer garden action, the city's residents love to take advantage of those rare sunny days and indulge their desire for a beer on a sunny lawn or in a sheltered courtyard. There are a few verdant spots that pour the best of the region's craft brews and are even prepared for inclement weather for trans-seasonal tipples.
Husk is a relative newcomer to the Wellington beer bar scene, but has come out swinging and made a huge mark already. Run by former Te Aro and now Choice Bros owner and brewer Kerry Gray and Karamu Coffee’s Mike Pullin, Husk has quickly become an essential destination for Wellington’s beer lover thanks to its always choice tap lineups (and frequent takeovers by some of the world’s best breweries), excellent kai and creative interior. Husk can be found down an alleyway off Ghuznee St, and welcomes patrons with a fern-filled courtyard festooned with fairy lights. It’s an ideal spot to put away a gose or two as the sun goes down.
Southern Cross is the perfect garden bar for Wellington thanks to its suitability for drinking across all seasons. The surprisingly huge outdoor space has ample seating and is full of twinkling lights and paper lanterns— the perfect backdrop for raucous games of giant Jenga with a pint or two. However, the Southern Cross team are obviously familiar with the pitfalls of al fresco drinking in Wellington— fair play, considering the bar has been around for over a century— so are well prepped for cold nights. There’s always mulled wine available on cold nights, plus wool blankets and even the occasional hot water bottle, so there’s no need to scuttle inside at the first sign of a southerly.
Ancestral probably doesn’t occupy the same niche as some of the capital’s other beer gardens, but its many merits warrant its inclusion on this list. The design of this bar and restaurant’s outdoor area is remarkable and very clever— you’re not quite sure whether you’re actually inside or outside. The heated concrete seats, brick walls and partly-covered roof create a super cosy environment for enjoying a brew by the light of the fiery yakitori grill. Ancestral is also renowned for its cocktails, so there’s plenty to enjoy if a beer doesn’t take your fancy.
Wandering out into Olive’s courtyard is always a bit of a surprise. You don’t really expect to find this kind of space and lush foliage on Cuba Street, so this is a wee bit of a hidden gem and probably the closest thing you’ll find to a tropical oasis in the CBD. Olive’s interior is exquisitely decked out, but the exterior courtyard is where you really want to be, and there’s a decent amount of shelter in case of rain too. There are so many palms and ferns you’ll be dodging them to get to your table, and if you’re seeking something a bit heftier than a mere beer then their food menu is consistently excellent.
Rogue & Vagabond is less of a garden bar and more of a lawn bar. Having a drink here is a bit like drinking in your own garden, but the beer is better. There’s a high chance of an adorable bulldog named Bruce making an appearance, and there are loaded curly fries on demand. R&V (not to be confused with the music festival of the same acronym) is a bar that sprawls out onto a park in Garrett Street, and on a magical sunny summer’s day this is where you want to be soaking up the late afternoon sun.
Bebemos is a Latin-inspired Newtown bar with a outdoor area perfectly placed for people watching. If you’ve only ever experienced Bebemos during Newtown Festival and found it incredibly overwhelming, I encourage you to venture back on a sunny Saturday afternoon for a wee tipple in the quiet courtyard. The beer selection is generally excellent, with fridges crammed with domestic beer, and the menu is spicy and super vegetarian-friendly.
As the name would suggest, Hop Garden is a brilliant Mount Vic garden bar just a few streets out of the CBD. With a small but always rotating selection of tap beer and plenty of bottles and cans in the fridge, Hop Garden seems to only employ expert staff, so there’s always someone at hand to recommend a new local bevvy. Through some clever design, a veritable greenhouse of plants and vines, and a lot of glass walls and roof, Hop Garden makes you feel like you’re outdoors even when you’re cosying up with some fries on a rainy day. They’ve recently gone above and beyond, rather literally, and opened the Top Garden, a lush rooftop space that has 12 taps of beer and cider.
Published on April 18, 2017 by Georgia Munn